The Inn of the Good Samaritan was the setting for Jesus’ parable teaching of compassion. In the early days of Christianity a site was determined as the place where the story unfolded. Today the site of the Inn of the Good Samaritan is in the West Bank on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. During Jesus’ lifetime he would have traveled this road through the rough terrain that was renowned as a dangerous stretch notorious for robbers. The Biblical name of the road and present name of the area is “Ma’ale Adummim” which means “reds ascent.” This could refer to the red shade in local rock or to the blood split by robbers in ancient times along this treacherous road.
Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan
In Luke 10:25-37 Jesus is asked “who is my neighbor” and he tells this allegorical tale to teach about compassion. A Jewish traveler was robbed, beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. A priest and then a Levite go by without offering their help. Then a Samaritan (inhabitant of ancient Samaria) comes by and despite the general animosity between Jews and Samaritans he stops to help the injured man. The Samaritan took the man to a nearby inn and paid for the inn keeper to take care of him while he recovered. The moral of the story is that you should love your neighbor. All of God’s people are your “neighbor” no matter their religion, ethnicity, race or disability and they deserve your Christian love.
The Site of the Inn of the Good Samaritan
For centuries the site held a traveler’s inn or hostel of some kind. Then in the 6th century a Byzantine monastery was built here together with a pilgrims’ inn. During the Roman and then Crusader Period a fortress was erected not far from the site to watch over pilgrims traveling the Jerusalem-Jericho road. The Crusaders constructed an inn on the remains of the Byzantine inn. This new pilgrims’ inn had rooms arranged around a central courtyard. During the Ottoman Period the ancient site of the Byzantine and Crusader inn was reconstructed into a caravanserai or roadside inn. The inn suffered damage in World War I but was later restored by the British and again by the Jordanians.
Visiting the Inn of the Good Samaritan
Today we can still see the remains of the Byzantine monastery and Ottoman caravansary. A mosaic museum is housed in the courtyard and six halls of the restored Ottoman inn (khan). The museum displays ancient mosaic floors excavated from throughout Palestine. This is one of the largest mosaic museums in the world. The Byzantine monastery church has been reconstructed and transformed in to a place of worship for all denominations.